#shepherds #GoodShepherd #ServantLeaders
In the Christmas story, the angels heralded the birth of Jesus first to shepherds.
Why shepherds, rather than more important people of the time?
Kyle Wingfield, columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tackled this matter in his Christmas Day column of 2016.
As Wingfield puts it, shepherding was among the dirty jobs of the era, done by men of the humblest and lowliest stations in life.
But it’s so appropriate that shepherds were the first to know. Moses and David were shepherds before they became biblical heroes, Wingfield writes.
And, more importantly, the double symbolism in the story is that Jesus called himself “the Good Shepherd.” He came from humble beginnings, and circulated among, and died for, the humblest among us. As Wingfield put it, he was the ultimate example of a sacrificial leader. The ultimate shepherd.
Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the story offers an example for all of us. Real leaders first are servants. They jump into the dirtiest of tasks if they need to. They don’t ask of others what they would not do themselves.
Most of us would strive to be servant leaders. Servant leaders look not at what’s in it for themselves, but they look first at what they can do to help others succeed.
If they do that, then success usually finds them.
Perhaps you think that your current position does not allow you to be a servant leader. Instead, your position makes you be more like, well, just a servant.
But one can be a leader, while being a servant. He or she can set the example for those around them. He or she can show others how to be a good person, or, as it were, a good shepherd. Remember, as Wingfield writes, that shepherding was a pretty lowly job back in the day.
Then, there are those who seek to do more with their lives. They want to step up from what they are doing now, and be a shepherd in a new way – one that could have even more impact on others’ lives. Perhaps they want to help others succeed in a way that they, or those whom they help, would have never dreamed of.
If that describes you, there are many ways out there for you to step out, and step up, that you might not have thought about. To learn about one of the best ways to do that, message me.
Meanwhile, by extending a helping hand in your life as it is now, you will be on your way to becoming a good shepherd.
“We don’t like to think of ourselves as sheep,” Wingfield writes. “It’s something of a slur among those who reject (the elites). But we are all in need of shepherds. Good ones. The kind who set aside pride and self-interest to put others first,” Wingfield writes.
In short, be a good shepherd in your own way. Never forget that serving is leading. Never condemn your station in life. Instead, work to improve it if you must. Don’t let the naysayers and fear mongers bring you down.
For in this season, and all others, there is so much joy to be shared.


#recession #unemployment #optimism
“In America today, women are liberated, while combined individual wealth is the highest in the world – China, in second place, barely has 35 percent of what we do.”
So writes Jack Hunter, politics editor for, in a column published Aug. 28, 2016, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
So why are so many Americans bummed out? Hunter asks.
The first reason, Hunter suspects, is that the country still hasn’t recovered fully from the 2008 recession.
“Comparatively low unemployment numbers mask massive workforce dropouts, and, while sage stagnation is partially a myth, pay still hasn’t risen as consistently as it might have,” Hunter writes.
He also blames the bombardment of the 24-hour news cycle, on which tragedy predominates. Finally, he blames a “tin-eared” government and political class that has little in common with those they regulate.
Let’s break down how things are. The recession produced gobs of unemployment. Those who have found new jobs in many cases are not being paid nearly what they were being paid beforehand. Many who haven’t found jobs have given up looking.
Despite good job availability in some areas – most big rigs on the road are advertising the need for drivers, for example – people either aren’t taking advantage of those openings, or may not be qualified to take those jobs.
Couple that with the fact that truck driving, in most cases, doesn’t pay what it once did, even though the work is just as hard, or even harder given the increased traffic on the roads. That’s a disincentive to wanting to take the jobs.
Eventually, wages will start to increase as demand for labor increases.
Although “now hiring” signs are popping not just on the trucks, but at other places of employment, most of the available jobs are those with which one would have difficulty making a living. Many people are cobbling together a couple of part-time jobs to try to pay their bills. Folks like these are not going to necessarily embrace what’s good about America.
The news cycle spends lots of time on bad news, but the bad news has to be reported. Many news outlets try to balance off the bad news with some good, uplifting stories. Hunter talks about America’s success at the 2016 Summer Olympics as one of those uplifting stories.
Certainly, a polarized government like ours will be slow to solve problems, but the cure for most of the country’s ailments lies outside the government’s wheelhouse.
So, on balance, life is pretty good for a lot of people. If you don’t believe you are among them, there are ways in which you can act to improve your situation. There are many ways potentially to make money without the benefit of a traditional W-2 job. To find them, you first have to be willing to look, perhaps, outside your comfort zone. If you’d like to check out one of the best, message me. You might see how people perhaps just like you took their futures into their own hands and helped others do the same.
To get that positive mind-set, look for the good things in your life – friends, family etc. Focus on those. Then, begin to do all that YOU can to find a solution to the problems in your life. The holiday season is perhaps the best time of year to do that. The joy of what is good shines at Christmas, and that joy can spark optimism for the new year.
Remember, too, that, for most of us, there is no great benefactor out there. We must provide for our own futures. If you see life that way, you’ll be better equipped to celebrate the ups and deal with the downs.


#happy #organizations #communities

Some may not remember a few decades ago, when labor unions were not only strong, but one of the many fibers that brought communities together.
During that time, more people attended church, community service clubs such as the Lions or Rotary were flourishing, two-parent families were the norm etc.
Bob Davis and Gary Fields discussed this social erosion in a Sept. 16, 2016, article in The Wall Street Journal.
In those decades past, the union hall was the place to be in many blue-collar towns.
Today, as union membership is declining along with job security of any sort, we see the reaction of those affected by this decline. They are looking for someone, or something, to save them, and take the country back to that time.
Technology advances will not allow it.
But the question is not who will save those disaffected by technological change and lack of job security. The question becomes whom, or what, folks can turn to who have had their lives changed forever, if not for better.
Some community institutions are still around, and not all have seen membership decline.
Technology has also given us social media, but social media, though a fine creation, is no substitute for in-person interaction.
As life changes, one must look at not only what is GOOD about his life, he must be open to find ways to combat the life changes the modern world has wrought.
If you had a good job that’s gone away, and have either had to take a job that is less rewarding or have not been able to find a suitable job at all, the answer is to look for ways other than a traditional W-2 job to make money. Easier said than done? Perhaps not. Message me to find out more.
Getting back to basics, one must check his bad attitude at the door, and not reclaim it as he exits.
There is so much good in the world today, and so many reasons to be thankful, to have faith, enthusiasm and optimism.
If you think you can find those things by reconnecting with some of the older institutions in your community, by all means, go for it.
If you think you can find those things by hanging around different people – you can still have your friends, even if they don’t inspire you – by all means look for those different people. There’s no telling to what, or to whom, they could introduce you.
Looking for that one person who is going to change the world by bringing things back to the way they were is a futile exercise. However, looking for that one person who is going to change YOUR life, who will make YOUR life better, can not only be productive, but also can be very fulfilling.
In short, being optimistic, enthusiastic, open and happy can not only bring you joy, it very well could bring you success. Plus, it’s certainly better to be happy, even if you have to work at being happy, than being miserable.
Go for happy.


#trends #DigitalAge #crime #technology
Youth culture has become less violent, less promiscuous and more responsible.
So writes New York Times columnist Ross Douthat.
He wrote that American childhood is safer than ever before, as teens drink less and smoke less than previous generations.
Violent crime, a young person’s temptation, had fallen for 25 years before the recent post-Ferguson homicide increase, he writes, in a column published Aug. 23, 2016, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
At the same time, he writes, adulthood has become less responsible, “les obviously adult.” For the first time in more than a century, more 20-somethings live with parents than in any other arrangement.
Certainly, the recession of 2008 contributed to that. But Douthat also points out that the helicopter parent phenomenon, in which parents hover over their children by doing things the children should be doing for themselves, has contributed to the slower maturation process.
Douthat attributes these two trends to technology. “This mix of youthful safety and adult immaturity may be a feature of life in a society increasingly shaped by the Internet’s virtual realities,” he writes.
Let’s explore Douthat’s hypothesis.
When kids spend hours playing video games and otherwise sitting at computers, they are not out getting into trouble. At the same time, they are not out seeing what real life is all about.
A number of experts have written and spoken about the different groups in the workforce, with older workers, millennials and Gen-Xers all needing different things, and all motivated by different things.
But if you are among the older crowd, imagine hiring a 20-something who not only had never had a job, but also hardly had been out of the house in their formative years.
Imagine, too, the experts telling you that YOU have to change the way you do things to accommodate these kids.
Train them the way you were trained, they say, and they won’t last.
Not only are there psychological and mental differences in these kids, many are physically incapable of qualifying for many jobs. The police, fire and military usually have openings, but even if you bring back the draft, many of the recruits are not physically capable of enduring the rigor of military training. You’d probably kill them, literally, before you whipped them into shape.
Think, too, of the social aspects these kids bring. It’s tough to go out on dates when you are sitting at a computer for much of your life.
Of course, not all kids are like that. Some are ambitious, and are looking at bright futures. While others are taught to settle, they dream of what could be if they work for it.
If you are one of those kids, there are many options out there to fulfill those dreams. To check out one of the best, message me. You might come across a story of an 18-year-old high school senior who made more money than any of his teachers.
Technology is both good and bad for us. It is up to us, at every age, to take full advantage of the good while overcoming the bad. Young people must learn skills that will give them a leg up in the work force, while, at the same time, getting up, getting active and interacting live with friends, family and others.